Candy Corn: The Corn Syrup Enigma of Halloween

Halloween is synonymous with candy corn.

Those tri-colored triangle sweets have graced candy bowls for over a century, evoking both nostalgia and passionate hate.

The iconic confection is a muse for countless craft projects and decorations, and its colorful design makes it instantly recognizable.

This article will explore all things candy corn, such as:

  • It’s origins
  • It’s ingredients
  • Why do some people hate candy corn?

So settle in with your skull-shaped jar of sugary kernels to learn about this polarizing Halloween treat!

Candy Corn Fanatics

I have a friend who really loves candy corn; I just didn’t know how much until the night of the life-altering Candy Corn Party.

It all began on a crisp October evening when my friend, Macy, called to invite me to a “Candy Corn Lovers” party.

I laughed. 


“Are you serious? A group of adults celebrating the most controversial candy ever?” 

“Just come; it’ll be fun,” she said.

Walking into the dim entryway, a large banner hung across a doorway reading: “Candy Corn is Corn-tastic!”

Before I could question my life choices, Macy pulled me into the dining area and started introducing me around. 

After some wine and casual conversation, a man dressed as Mr. Peanut cleared his throat and called out, “It’s time for the presentation.”

The what?

“Candy corn, the jewel of Halloween, has been maligned and misunderstood,” he started in.

I audibly rolled my eyes.

The “presentation” covered everything from candy corn’s 19th-century origins to its triumphant return in the early 2000s after a fictional nationwide shortage.

After the micro-lecture that felt like 100 years, Macy leaned in and said, “You see? It’s not just a candy; it’s a legacy!”

The Candy Corn Mascot

I proceeded to wander around the house, examining intricate candy corn sculptures.

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Then, I accidentally bumped into a table, and a single piece of candy rolled off onto the floor. 

I bent down, and when I stood up lanky figure in a candy corn costume was staring at me, their eyes visible through tiny mesh holes.

“Have you tasted the magic?” they whispered in a voice that was too intense for someone dressed as confectionery.

I chuckled nervously, “Well, I mean, I’ve had candy corn before.”

They leaned closer. 

“Not like this.” 

And then, they handed me a single piece from a package, shimmering under the dim light.

I hesitated, but the sheer absurdity of the situation was too much to resist. 

I popped the sweet bite into my mouth.

My taste buds were hit with a burst of flavors: caramel, honey, a hint of sea salt…

Was that a whisper of dark chocolate?

My eyes widened.

“What… was that?!”

“Ah,” they said, “That’s the original 1880s recipe. A taste lost to time and commercialization but preserved by the true connoisseurs.”

The rest of the evening was a blur

There were debates, taste tests, and even a poetry reading, all centered around the tiny orange, white, and yellow candies. 

I became entranced by the absurd and delicious bliss.

And that’s how I became a covert member of the Candy Corn Appreciation Society. 

Now, every October 31, I hand out “traditional” candy corn.

It fills me with joy to watch children’s faces either light up with delight or fall with disappointment that it’s not Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups or some other candy.

How was candy corn invented?

The history of candy corn dates back to the 1880s, although many varieties are similar today.

It was invented by George Renninger at Wunderle Candy Company in Philadelphia. 

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Initially called “Chicken Feed,” given its resemblance to chicken food, this branding appealed to America’s largely farming-based populace. 

The Goelitz Confectionery Company (now the Jelly Belly Candy Company) began to produce candy corn in masses in the early 20th century, boosting candy corn sales.

It was not initially Halloween candy corn

Due to its agricultural aesthetic, it was associated with the entire fall season from Labor Day to Thanksgiving. 

However, as Halloween grew in significance, candy corn became inextricably linked with October 31. 

Despite that, there is a National Candy Corn Day every October 30, dedicated to celebrating the confection.

To celebrate, people eat fun candy corn cupcakes covered in fondant and little dessert kernels decorated with the classic tri-colors: orange, yellow, and white.

What ingredients produce candy corn?

Candy corn’s ingredients have remained relatively consistent over the years.

It mainly includes:

  • Sugar: gives candy corn its sweetness
  • Corn Syrup: corn syrup adds to sweetness while also creating a smooth texture
  • Gelatin: provides a chewy consistency
  • Confectioner’s Glaze: gives its characteristic sheen
  • Edible Wax: Often beeswax or carnauba, this provides the semi-firm exterior
  • Colorings: Traditionally yellow and orange with a white tip, the colors are achieved by food dyes

What does candy corn taste like?

Describing the taste of candy corn can be subjective, as palates differ. 

Generally, it is very sweet (due to its high sugar content) with a creamy, vanilla-like flavor. 

However, slight nuances can be detected depending on the brand or the specific recipe.

Some people swear they taste hints of honey, while others get a whiff of marshmallow or butter. 

It actually comes in a multitude of flavors (even though it’s artificial flavor and sugar that does the work).

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Many variations have been concocted over the years.

Manufacturers have introduced flavor combinations like “Reindeer Corn” for Christmas (red, green, and white) or “Freedom Corn” for Independence Day, alongside Cupid Corn, yellow and pink Bunny Corn, and green Caramel Apple Corn.

Contrary to popular belief, the classic individual colors of yellow, orange, and white do not have distinct flavors.

Why do some people dislike candy corn?

The relationship people have with this particular candy tends to be one of love or disdain. 

For many, it’s a treasured symbol of fall and Halloween, eagerly awaited each year. 

For others, it is deemed too plain or has a waxy texture.

Foods that have a distinctive taste or texture often divide people, so it’s not surprising that candy corn is polarizing. 

Think of cilantro, which some people adore while others detest due to genetic differences in taste perception. 

Candy corn’s distinct flavor profile means it naturally has its lovers and haters.

An American Tradition

Whether you adore candy corn or always skip it, its presence during the fall season is as predictable as the changing leaves.

And it’s not just enjoyed during fall; you can usually find a bag of this delectable treat year-round.

It’s really not just a candy; it’s an American tradition. 

Its rich history, distinctive taste, and cultural significance make it an integral part of the Halloween experience. 

What do you think of the Halloween treat?

Do you wait for Halloween every year just to buy some? 

Do you despise it with everything you are?                                             

Tell us in the comment section!

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